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Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili is the perfect chili for feeding a crowd or watching the game! Simple, full of flavor and easy to make and take!

Slow Cooker Tailgate ChiliI couldn’t be more excited about today’s post! I get to combine 2 of my favorite topics…. tailgating and chili!! We love to tailgate at football games and have been testing out all kinds of different recipes for years. What could possibly make a better Saturday? There’s not much I can think of! We meet up with some great friends, bring our grills, and get to cooking! I mean, the food is almost as important as the game and is something to be carefully considered. We usually start planning several days to a week in advance so we can do any necessary shopping and prep work so that our time spent in the parking lot before the game can be maximum fun and relaxation.

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili in a bowl with chili topping and a beer

I can assure you we have tried and enjoyed many types of chili recipes over the years. Anything from recipes we’ve made completely ahead of time to those we’ve made totally in the moment. This year, I got to thinking, what if I could find something that work well and makes the best of both worlds. All of the ingredients could be added together in a bag and then the contents could be heated at game-time (so to speak).

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili in a blue dutch oven heating on the grill

So what goes into making this tailgate chili?

I wanted a recipe to simulate the smokiness of a chili that’s been on the campfire all day but be a meal that would come together quickly. Therefore, I used all the smoky ingredients I could think of. Fire-roasted tomatoes, plenty of cumin, roasted garlic powder and ancho chili powder.

I chose a ground beef and pork as the base but you could use chicken or turkey as well. The one thing noticeably missing? That’s right, beans. I did that for a reason. How should I say this? Beans just don’t always agree with everyone, and who wants to sit around at the game with their tummy in a rumble. Leave the beans out and enjoy this chili without concern!

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili in a metal bowl served with a cold beer

What goes well with chili?

  • shall we just take a moment to talk about the toppings. To me, this is so much of what chili is about. You can make the same recipe but alter all of the options to dress it up so that it’s different every time. We love to pour it over baked potatoes or load it up with crispy potato wedges. Fill it up with corn chips if that’s your style. And, obviously, cheese. Maybe some sour cream? Start dreaming it up and I’ll bet it will go!
  • and of course, what tailgate would be complete without your favorite beverage. An ice cold beer perhaps?

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili in a metal bowl topped with cheese chips and onions

I also added a couple of secret ingredients I’m about to share with you!

Beer (in the chili!) is the first, and probably not terribly surprising, but certainly a way to customize the flavor.

The second? Chocolate powder!! That’s right, just a little, but it’s there. It will cut the acidity and give a richness to the chili that can’t be left out.

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili

Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili

Jennifer Draper
Slow Cooker Tailgate Chili is the perfect chili for feeding a crowd or watching the game! Simple, full of flavor and easy to make and take!
3.91 from 44 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 275 kcal


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cans fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate powder


Make ahead:

  • Brown ground beef and pork in skillet over medium high heat until fully cooked
  • Cool before adding to a large zippered freezer bag
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Store in fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to 3 months
  • Add thawed chili large cast iron pot over heat
  • Simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes or until nice and hot (the longer the better for flavor)

Make now/slow cooker:

  • Brown ground beef and pork in skillet over medium high heat until fully cooked
  • Transfer to slow cooker
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6


Calories: 275kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 21gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 124mgPotassium: 408mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 675IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 2.5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @slowcookergourmet or tag #slowcookergourmet!
Important nutritional disclaimer


Our favorite essential tailgating supplies when making chili you ask?


  1. This is just the chili recipe I was hoping to find. No beans, perfect spices and love the chocolate powder complexity. Can’t wait to make it, thank you so much for sharing.

  2. I can’t find some of these chili powders do you have any substitutions I can use like for the Chipotle chili powder and for the anchor chili powder?

    1. Hi Karen! You could use regular chili powder, but you will miss out on the added flavor with the smokiness and the bit of spice. You can always order them from Amazon.com!!

  3. 5 stars
    Everybody liked it! Even my picky 8 yr old. We served it with Fritos. I finally found a chili recipe I like. The only thing I changed was the beer for beef broth. Thank you!!

  4. Why beer as an ingredient? I have celiac disease, and i don’t like the taste of GF beer, not sure if I want to add it to the chili. Is there a substitute that you recommend?

  5. Can I use only ground beef?
    One more thing I like about this recipe is the chocolate powder! Honestly, I’ve never tried to use a sweet powder for a salty dish like this. Cannot wait to try this!
    – Natalie Ellis

  6. What size are the cans of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes?
    We don’t live near our favorite teams to tailgate, but it’s great to have the slow cooker going on a Sunday while the TV is on, and friends may drop by…

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